We just started reading a new book today. I’m not done with Peter Pan yet, but we decided to mix it up with something more fun. We’ll work our way through the last 20% of Peter Pan, but we’ll do it at night when the kids are getting ready for bed.
So we started Percy Jackson today. Corde listened along, figuring she can count it as part of her summer reading (it’s like a book on tape). She thinks it’s more interesting than the first chapter of Harry Potter, where absolutely nothing interesting happens, not really. I think she’s wishing she’d read Percy Jackson as her summer reading book instead. Oh well. She can always change her mind.
However, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve got to limit screen time for Luca. Now, I’ll be honest, Luca spends a lot of time watching Netflix, sometimes what feels like too much time. I’ve tried to be the good radical unschooler when it comes to this, but it’s taking over Luca’s life. He seems to want to do nothing but watch movies, to the point where it’s starting to get in the way of doing anything else.
Part of this is really Sander’s fault. Well, I guess the origin is Corde. She complains that reading is boring for years. Now Sander says reading is boring. He’s taken it one step farther to say being read to is boring. This resulted in Luca crying for twenty minutes because he didn’t want to hear the story, he just wanted to watch a movie.
Well, I was having none of it. Against all of my unschooling desires, I made up my mind that Luca was at least going to sit quietly while the movie was on, even if all he did was munch on his sandwich and ignore us. He would be in the same room, and the screen would be off. He didn’t have to listen, but he had to be quiet and let everyone else listen, and he had to be in the room.
After the whole crying, screaming fit over not being allowed to watch Netflix, we’ve decided it’s time for Netflix to go, at least in anything other than watching as a family. Luca is on a Netflix fast for a week. Luca’s really got to start doing other things, playing, interacting, reading. I thought that summer reading and the potential to win a prize would be enough, but apparently not.
Of course, summer reading at our library is decidedly not cool. All of the libraries I’ve been to before have all done things where you get prizes for reading so many books, so much time, whatever. I think when I was a kid you would read so many books and you got a book as a prize. Now everywhere seems to do time. Even if they’re just little cheap toys (one place did book marks, rubber duckies, that sort of thing), they get to feel like they won something for all their work. That was the motivation, to get the next prize.
This library does it different. You get tickets for every so many hours you read. The first one is free. You get another at 1 hour, another at 5 hours, then 15, 30, and 50. Each of the tickets can be deposited into a box to try and win a prize. I won’t lie, some of the prizes are some pretty nice stuff, like the gardening kit and the Lincoln Logs. Still, I find it hard to motivate them when their only reward for all that is a chance to win something. They could work hard all summer to read all 50 hours and not win a single thing. And what do I do if one of them wins, but the rest of them get nothing? This didn’t matter last year because Sander and Beekee only got far enough to do their 1 hour tickets and then we forgot about recording their time, not that we did much reading last summer. This year I’ve got all three of them doing the elementary summer reading program, and they’re not super excited about it.
I had really hoped to use the summer reading program to motivate the kids to get their reading done. I wanted them to become stronger readers, and hopefully get Luca started on reading through exposure, but it’s not really happening. They’re just not motivated for a chance to win something. I mean, at 5 hours they get a t-shirt, so that’s something. I just really don’t see this as giving them something to work to. They like it a lot better when there’s a clear goal in sight. This is just a maybe, and they don’t like maybes.
Still, it’s getting them to sit for a story every day. We’re counting read aloud (I don’t know if we should) because Luca can’t read yet, and we’re spending a half hour each day with the reading aloud. That means Sander has to read one or two more books to get his hour every day. Luca needs to have two more books read to him. Beekee gets to read for a half hour quietly. That gives them a good chunk of reading time down. Anything else is just a bonus at that point.
It’s especially hard because Sander is a very reluctant reader. He’s taken on Corde’s cries that reading is boring, so he doesn’t want to read, ever. He’s also taken on her argument that reading is hard. That’s trickling down to Luca, who now says he doesn’t want to read because reading isn’t fun. It’s just a whole mess of a thing. I think they all need a role model (not me) to show them that reading really is fun.
Oh well, for now we have Percy Jackson, and that seems to have lit a spark in them for wanting to hear a good story. That’s definitely something. I’ll take it for what it is. We’ll count that towards their reading (whether it’s permitted or not) and run with that. Hopefully that will help them see how great reading really can be.